The Otsal Guest House at the Changspa Road in Leh has been my accommodation of choice, during my last 3 trips to Ladakh. In fact, for me, it has been more than just a guest house, having spent over 20 nights there, during the course of my trips and that too in the same room.
The Guest House and Rooms
Otsal Guest House is a small yet cozy budget guest house, located on the Changspa Road (next to the small bridge over a stream and across Yama Café and all-day breakfast). It has traditional architecture and from the outside, looks more like a large Ladakhi home than a guest house!
It has rooms with attached toilets and rooms with common toilets to cater to all types of budget travelers. It also has a indoor parking large enough to accommodate plenty of motorcycles and 3-4 cars.
I have always opted for a room with attached toilet on the first floor and found it to be cozy and warm, even during the month of October, thanks to the sun keeping it warm from sunrise to sunset.
Warm water is available during the day (solar) from May to September and you can also ask for hot water in a bucket, in case you’re traveling late in the season or need to take a bath early in the morning or late in the evening.
There are no televisions in the room (frankly I found no reason to have it in Ladakh) and the free Wi-Fi can be a little weak in some of the rooms.
Food and room service
Breakfast and dinner are available, provided you ask for it a little in advance. Otsal cooks delicious dal and subzi, also the Ladakhi bread is worth trying at breakfast and will keep you full for quite some time.
There are numerous cafes within a hundred meters of the guest house (I like Yama and Jeevan in particular), so I usually prefer eating out.
Room service is available during the day, though if you’re expecting 24×7 room service, it would be a good idea to look at hotels rather than guesthouses.
The staying experience
What I like most about the Otsal Guest House is the feel or rather the aura of the place. Even though it is on the famous Changspa Road, it is a quiet and allows you to relax even during the day.
Otsal and Sonam Uncle (Otsal’s father) are wonderful hosts and have numerous experiences to share about Ladakh, traveling, photography (Otsal is an avid photographer and videographer), and life in general. In fact, if you want to know anything about traveling or trekking in Ladakh, the duo will be able to tell you all there is to know and can even draw you a map of the route!
Otsal can also arrange treks, taxis, permit, and guides if you need it.
The room windows opens up into a small garden with apples and other vegetables and plants, you also have a wonderful view of the Stok Kangri Range through the trees.
And this staying experience/feel matters more to me than anything else and hence I have found myself returning to Otsal Guest House again and again.
The Guest House is open during the season i.e. from May to mid/end October and generally closes when the weather is cold enough to freeze the pipelines.
Prior booking is recommended due to a limited number of rooms being available and the guest house catering to quite a few long-term and repeat travelers.
Tariff is Rs. 800 for room attached toilet and Rs. 600 for room with common toilet during season.
Otsal Guest House,